Iran: negotiations over critical Arak heavy water reactor 'virtually resolved'

Published April 19th, 2014 - 03:42 GMT

A day after US president Barack Obama signed a bill barring Iran’s UN envoy-designate from entering the country, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that a dispute with world powers over the Arak heavy water reactor has been “virtually resolved.”

“Iran has made a proposal to the P5+1 [group of world powers] to make certain changes in Arak and they have accepted. This question is virtually resolved,” Salehi said.

Tehran has been engaged in negotiations with six world powers aimed at clinching a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear drive.

A deal may involve the Islamic republic slashing its number of centrifuges, changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight.

In a sign of thaw in the Tehran stance a senior Iranian military official urged the foreign ministry to name a new envoy to the UN.

The semi-official Fars news agency also quoted General Mohammad Bagherzadeh as saying that Abutalebi should remain close to his mother because the family lost two sons during the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

The Arak reactor, located 240km southwest of Tehran, could provide Iran with plutonium capable of being used to make a nuclear bomb.

Iran insists the 40 megawatts reactor, whose construction is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is for peaceful medical research activity only.

It and the world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany — are to resume technical talks next month in New York ahead of further negotiations on a lasting nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said Saturday.

The talks would take place from May 5 to 9, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster Irib.

In November, Iran clinched a deal with the world powers under which it froze some nuclear activities in return for some minor relief from crippling Western sanctions.

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